The sheer number of CBD-infused products on the market today can feel dizzying, from CBD tinctures to edibles, face creams, and even pet treats. One lesser-known product that is growing in popularity is smokable hemp flower. Consumers who want the full-spectrum benefits of cannabis without psychoactive effects are flocking to CBD hemp flower (and, increasingly, to CBG hemp flower). What is hemp flower, and what is hemp flower good for? Most importantly, should farmers consider cultivating hemp flower?
What Is Industrial Hemp Flower?
Industrial hemp plants contain over 100 different cannabinoids, including cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabigerol (CBG). The highest quantities of these complex chemicals can be found in the flower or “bud” of female hemp plants. (This is why many farmers choose to plant feminized hemp seeds.) When a female hemp plant remains unpollinated, it produces even larger amounts of cannabinoids in its flowers.
Hemp farmers growing hemp for CBD or CBG can purchase seeds specially bred to produce the highest percentages of CBD or CBG as possible, like our Berry Blossom CBD strain or our Matterhorn CBG strain.
Hemp Flower vs. CBD or CBG Oil
Anyone who has been paying attention to the health and wellness industry knows that CBD oil is one of the hottest new products. CBG oil has also started to rise in popularity. Resin from the hemp plant is processed and the CBD and CBG-rich oil is extracted and then added to a multitude of products. In contrast, a hemp flower is the fully dried bud from the hemp plant. The dried flower contains the full spectrum of the plant’s cannabinoids as well as its terpenes, the compound that gives many plants their enticing smells. Consumer demand for smokable hemp flower is increasing and entrepreneurs are rising to the occasion and producing boutique-quality hemp flowers for the market.
How Consumers Use Hemp Flower Buds
Smoking CBD or CBG hemp flower is becoming more popular. Whether smoked in a bubbler, pipe, or as a pre-rolled (or self-rolled) joint, people enjoy the relaxing, calming effect that CBD and CBG delivers. Vaping hemp flowers using a vape pen is also a popular trend. Those who don’t want the “feel” of smoking hemp buds can vaporize their flowers in a dry herb vaporizer.
Smoking is not the only way to use hemp flower buds. Some consumers will bake them into CBD edible treats or make homemade topicals, like massage oils and salves. Still, the majority of people who buy hemp flower smoke it directly.
What Is Hemp Flower Good For?
Why do consumers love buying and smoking hemp flower?
Cannabinoids without psychotropic effects
Scientists are just beginning to learn how the cannabinoids in hemp plants affect the body’s endocannabinoid system, which helps regulate mood, sleep, appetite, and memory. Many people believe CBD and CBG can offer physical, psychological, and emotional benefits related to the endocannabinoid system. (Here’s what we know about the scientific research on CBD and the scientific research on CBG.)
Hemp flower gives people the ability to take CBD and CBG without any unwanted psychotropic effects. As set out in the 2018 Farm Bill, industrial hemp plants must contain less than 0.3% THC. That’s not enough to make users feel “high.” For those who want the benefits of CBD and CBG while still feeling focused and sharp, hemp flowers are a great option.
Smoking hemp flower is also a good alternative to smoking tobacco cigarettes and may even help users quit cigarettes. An early study found that smokers who wanted to quit smoked cigarettes 40% less compared to a control group when they were allowed to smoke CBD hemp flower instead.
One of the most popular benefits of smoking hemp flower (as opposed to consuming CBD or CBG oil) is that hemp buds offer a strong and unique fragrance, known as its terpene profile. The terpene profiles of hemp flower vary dramatically. Some are floral or fruity, while others include heavy notes of cheese, gasoline, and skunk. While that might sound off-putting to the uninitiated, many consumers absolutely love cheesy or skunky hemp flower.
Here at High Grade Hemp Seed, our Merlot strain is famous for its sharp terp profile of opened tennis balls, orange peel, chocolate, and cherries jubilee. Alternatively, our Trophy Wife strain is equally beloved for its deep aroma of cheese and skunk with cherry undertones.
Consuming CBD or CBG through a tincture or food slows down the activation rate of the CBD or CBG. On the other hand, smoking hemp flower buds allows the CBD or CBG to pass immediately through the lungs and directly into the bloodstream. Not only does this mean smokers can feel the calming effects of CBD or CBG almost immediately, but it also means they enjoy a higher effect (known in scientific terms as a higher bioactivation rate) because the CBD or CBG isn’t processed in the digestive system or liver first.
Full spectrum experience
The final benefit of smoking hemp flower is that a consumer can enjoy the full spectrum of cannabinoids within the bud. Remember, besides CBD and CBG, a hemp flower contains many different cannabinoids as well as terpenes. Some hemp flower consumers believe that the “whole is greater than the parts,” meaning that the positive effects of CBD and/or CBG can be enhanced in concert with all the other chemical compounds in the hemp flower. This is known as the “entourage effect.”
What Farmers Need to Know About Growing and Harvesting Hemp Flower
Farmers who decide to grow industrial hemp for buds (as opposed to biomass) will need to make certain accommodations, especially when it comes time to harvest the crop. Before harvesting, hemp farmers need to keep an eye on the weather. A hard rain could wash away terpenes and bad storms can damage vulnerable flowers.
At harvest time, those who plan to sell hemp biomass to a refinery or to extract resin on their own from their biomass can cut down their hemp plants using a combine. Hemp flower farmers, on the other hand, need to be much more careful. Hemp buds are delicate and bruise easily. Farmers must harvest hemp flowers by hand, often using labor to cut plants with machetes, tobacco knives, or shears. Harvesting hemp flowers by hand ensures that the trichomes (the resinous glands in the flower that store terpenes and cannabinoids) are not damaged or contaminated.
While hemp biomass can be dried in a matter of days, hemp flowers need to be dried and cured, which can take weeks in a dry facility. Curing hemp flowers will ensure a smooth smoking experience. Many hemp farmers perform the drying and curing process themselves, which takes a lot of careful handling, a well-designed drying facility, and plenty of patience. (Here’s a handy guide to harvesting hemp for biomass or hemp buds.)
Large-scale industrial hemp farmers tend to grow hemp for biomass. Growing hemp flowers takes a lot of extra focus and care, which can be difficult to manage on a large scale.
Why should farmers consider growing hemp buds? The answer is that hemp flowers contain a higher percentage of CBD or CBG than hemp biomass. Hemp biomass averages a concentration of 10-12% CBD, while smokable flowers typically manage at least 15% CBD. That means boutique-quality hemp flowers can sell at a higher price, giving farmers who are willing to put in the work for a better return on investment.
Should You Grow Hemp Flower?
Growing CBG or CBD hemp flowers is not for the faint of heart, but farmers who are willing to accept the challenges and risks of hemp flowers have the opportunity to see a strong ROI on this still-emerging field. More and more consumers are actively searching for hemp flower and entrepreneurs are looking for farmers to partner with to get more product to market. (Check out our ultimate 2020 Hemp Growing Guide.)
High Grade Hemp Seed sells a range of feminized hemp seed strains that offer consistently high rates of CBD or CBG and world-class terp profiles. Contact our knowledgeable representatives today to learn more about growing hemp buds.